Football was nothing more than a sideshow this afternoon to a referee who clearly thought the fans had come to see him dish cards out and the continued protests against Ken Bates.

The “dissident minority” as Ken Bates so arrogantly branded fans opposed to his ownership of the club were vocal before, during and after the match as the hostility towards our chairman continues to grow from something easily dismissed as a vociferous few to the vast majority of Leeds United fans.

Various banners had been created and several different songs were sung, but they were all united in their message; enough is enough Ken, it’s time to go.

The match itself started brilliantly for Leeds United who completely dominated proceedings, right up until the point where Max Gradel was given a second yellow card and sent down the tunnel after just 26 minutes. Second yellow was unquestionable, but the first was handed out in the opening minutes, a period in which most referees would have had a word to calm things down a little. Not this ref though, this ref was part of a growing breed of referees who are convinced the supporters come to watch them blow their whistle.

Despite the numerical advantage, Boro struggled to take a hold of the game and Leeds United continued to battle on and carve out chances. Howson, Clayton, McCormack and Snoddy were all causing the visiting team problems, as was Tom Lees who appears to be unmarkable from set-plays and had several good chances.

As we approached half-time there were plenty of positives as Leeds proved they were more than equal to Middlesbrough despite the numerical disadvantage.

And then, almost predictably, the referee decided to level things out with another dubious sending off. This time, the referee pointed his shiny new cards in the direction of McMahon whose perplexed reaction was mirrored by the travelling away contingent. The Leeds United fans meanwhile considered it justice.

The late sending off of McMahon in the first half meant the second half started with complete parity, both in terms of scoreline and players remaining.

But it wasn’t long until the referee decided to ruin what had temporarily become a good battle on the pitch by sending Jonny Howson off and restoring Middlesbrough’s numerical advantage. It was another dodgy decision from an absolute joke of a referee who looked ready to book Emnes for a dive, but then appeared to change his mind and show Jonny Howson his second yellow card instead.

With only nine men remaining, Leeds had their work cut out and for the most part, were chasing shadows. Andy Lonergan made more saves today than most keepers would have to make in a month and was indisputably the man of the match. But try as he may – and believe me his performance should be described as nothing less than epic – Emnes found a way passed him on 67 minutes which would ultimately decide the match.

Conclusions

Despite the result, Leeds United fans left proud with a battling performance from the team under extreme and ridiculous circumstances. Even with nine men remaining, the “keep fighting” spirit of Billy Bremner lived on at Elland Road, embodied by each and every one of our players.

Adam Clayton was once again incredible as one of Leeds’ biggest threats up front and a workhorse destroyer in the centre of the park. He also made a bid for goal of the season with an attempt to lob the keeper from around the centre-circle, and was only denied by the fingertips of Boro’s keeper.

Simon Grayson’s ingenious decision to play four centre-backs (Lees, Bromby, Kisnorbo and O’Dea) in our back line was not the solution to all our problems. Whilst Lees seems to be slowly adapting to the right-back position, O’Dea is closer to a striker than he ever will be a full-back. Still, it was good to see the manager didn’t shy away from making changes – we saw that all too often last season.

Overall, I can’t help but feel cheated by the referee. I doubt any Middlesbrough fan in attendance today can honestly say they would have won without the red cards – Leeds were running them off the park. It was the kind of performance we needed to see after the shambolic display at Southampton, even if we didn’t get the result we deserved.

Bates Protest pics by @LUFC_AwayDays and @NJBLUFC

Simon Grayson’s reaction to red cards

“I don’t know what words to describe it. Everybody is referring to a few of the decisions. It amazes you at times.

“You have 20-odd thousand here, a passionate local derby, two players go for a 50-50, not over the top or anything like that, and they’re both yellow-carded which puts them both on the back foot.

“Neither of them went over the top and then Max makes a rash challenge. He then decides to even it up by sending off Tony McMahon which I don’t think was another yellow card, and then the second sending-off absolutely baffled me.

“I’ve been in to see the referee. The second decision with Jonny Howson is an unbelievable decision. He has given a free-kick in our direction and was about to book Emnes and, if he wasn’t rolling around on the floor like he was doing, he’d have been booked and we’d have had a free-kick. He was going to book him for diving, that’s what he’s told me.

“He’s clipped Jonny Howson’s leg – I’ve seen the DVD – and while he’s rolling around on the floor, the fourth official tells him from 60 yards that he’s made the wrong decision and Jonny Howson gets sent off.

“The referee is 10-15 yards away, and how he can’t make the decision himself or make it and then get overruled, leaves me bewildered.”

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray meanwhile sympathised with the referee saying he had a “difficult” game. Always easier when you’ve got the three points.

  • Colin

    Not looking great for the Hull match with 2 of our best performers out (Howson & Gradel).

    For me only 2 positives can be taken from this match and into the Hull game – Tom Lees & Adam Clayton are showing skill, craft, guile and fight.

    Still a hell of a lot of work to do to make this a promotion challenging side, but the spirit is back. It wasn't at Southampton.

    Our pre-season has been a disaster. August is our pre-season. Let's start again and fight back from September.

    • TSS

      Only two positives?

      I thought Howson was excellent. The first yellow was one of those where you either take a booking or they score. Shows experience and a good read of the game to commit the foul when he did. Five stars for that one. Second was a joke.

      McCormack again was tireless, but needs someone along side him.

      Lonergan was a fucking machine. How have you overlooked him?

      But the biggest one was the reaction. They came out all guns blazing and despite the refs best efforts to destroy us, they kept fighting. We were robbed.

      • Colin

        You will be pleased to hear that on the official Leeds audio (i'm on LUTV), that the Bates chants were loud for all to hear and it was referenced by the commentator at one point. They tried to talk over it. They couldn't.

        Yes, Lonergan deserves praise. He shouldn't be put in a position where he has to perform so intensely, but it is nice to see a keeper going up for a corner!!

        As for Howson – what do you expect? He's outstanding. When the shit hits the fan, that's when the real players step up. That's when you really find out about players. Brown must have been looking at Jonny and thinking "I wish I could play like Howson."

        Howson is the rightful Captain of Leeds. He's Mr. Leeds. He's Jonny United. He's Captain Fantastic. I don't take an excellent performance from Howson as a positive. I expect it every single game and I'm never disappointed. And that's why I maintain that Howson is our biggest player. 100% consistent. 100% work-rate and very very rarely injured.

        How a Premiership team hasn't put a big bid in for him (with him being on expiring contract) amazes me.

  • Craig1919

    The most inept refereeing performance I have seen for a long time! There were many great performances today with Clayton and Lonergan with incredible displays, Grayson showed for once he bad a pair of balls and with lees and Bromby I didn’t think Boro would score it was a comfortable day at the office… Then the ref wanted some of the limelight an the hate been spewed at bates was quickly redirected… All 3 red cards shouldn’t have been IMO and had it been 11-11 I’d have thought we’d have won today as Boro showed nothing really

  • number1inyorkshire

    thought grayson is just being plane stupid not playing grella he can still sell him if he needs and if he turns up with a goal or 2 it might help that .we need a striker we have one so play grella .
    Bates out campaign looks good on pics !!will it continue ???
    as usual a ref has done us , sky reports said he was poor and the jonny howson sending off was unbelievable ??? was it ???
    roll on Tuesday 1st game of the season for me !!!

    • Colin

      Absolutely right. Use Grella. McCormack for all his hard work is lost up front on his own. Give Grella a chance, maybe Grayson and Grella don't get on but now is not the time for arguments. Let's remember that injuries gave McCormack a chance, now he's a first team starter.

      Maybe Grayson is afraid to play him for fear of looking weak. He shouldn't be afraid. How many chances did Paynter get? To not give Grella a chance against Hull is a mistake. McCormack needs a friend up front.

      We all know that Grella wants to prove a point. He's angry at not getting a chance. Play him against Hull and let the anger come out. If he gets a chance he will be 100% committed to prove Grayson wrong.

      With all due respect, McCormack puts in a lot of huff and puff, but he won't get many goals on his own. What's the worst that could happen? Grella doesn't score. But he might. It's worth a try.

      • TSS

        Grella's useless. Too many step-overs, no finished product. He's not going to fill the void.

        • number1inyorkshire

          look i never said that he was i just said ,he wants to sell himself it might work . is he anymore useless than paynter but not playing someone who has scored in pre season just for the sake is frankly poor management at least put him on the bench ,footy is about opinions 2 replies ,2 different opinions .i just happen to think Colin is right this time lol

          • Irving08

            I concur on Grella though I would prefer to play Gradel in the centre, put White wide left and not play Brown (I would add never play him, but then I would never have touched him in the first place). Let's suppose, by the way, that Bates found a buyer and retired, does anyone seriously think SG would last more than five minutes ?

        • Colin

          TSS – So what is 23 league appearances and 1 goal Paynter then?

          • TSS

            Slightly better than Grella.

          • Colin

            No he's not.

          • TSS

            30 apps, 1 goal. You're the one that wanted to use stats.

        • Colin

          And if he's useless, then who signed him up on a new full term contract? If Grella's useless, then Grayson is too. You can't have it both ways.

        • lufcboy

          Grella may be useless but he is more prolific for Leeds than Billy Barndoor. Come to think of it Enoch and no Kandol are better than Billy LOL

          • ls10

            agree, bring back TK20

  • JMO

    I thought we looked OK but we are lacking up front. Lees, Clayton and Howson were brilliant today but take nothing away from the keeper 'who conceded more than Kasper' HE WAS SIMPLY BRILLIANT !
    Ref ruined the game…… Quite simple !

  • derbyshirewhite

    Awful referee but the jury's also out on Brown's abilities. Showed some good touches early on but he's a magnet for yellow cards and gave the ball away far more than the excellent Clayton. It was a Brown lapse that led to Howson taking one for the team with his next yellow turning red.

  • mersey whites

    The protest was IMHO very poor, not only in substance but also in numbers.

    I wish people would focus on the match , and not trying to unsettle the atmosphere , which was very good by the way, in only the 2nd match of the season.

  • kev

    thought we started well looked alot better than the southampton game,passed it well and looked likely to score,then the f—king referee thought he'd make a name for himself,worst referee i think i've every seen,what a twat,lonergan was brilliant today,a proper keeper at last !!

  • LUFCjames

    The referee was the same referee that was in charge of our game at home to Shefield United last season. I thought he was the worst referee i had ever seen and today i think he was even worse. How do these people become referees.

  • mikelufc

    I can not believe that some are shouting for Grella to be played.. I predicted quite rightly on tuesday that there was no way Larry would play Nunez again today because snoddy was back because that is larrys way just as he was with Somma and before that beckford.
    Larry should be wearing coco the clowns outfit in the circus he is running, the lads are doing ok, in spite of, not because of him.
    All we need now is bristol to draw or win and we are bottom.
    Well done Coco.

    • TSS

      You've said OB was one of his favourites too though in fairness.

    • John

      I can’t believe so many fans are moaning about Grayson. The guy is the best manager we’ve had since o’leary and let’s face it we’ve had a few. The guy has not been able to invest in the team all his time in charge yet we are far better off than when he arrived. I know some of his signings have been poor but when you’ve got no money you have to gamble on players. We will not move forward as a club until Bates goes. He is killing us. The protest doesn’t seem to have got much national coverage which is a shame.

  • ben kates

    Had a great day in my new box in the East Stand. Great view of the money rolling in.
    Loved the protest. All those people standing round shouting the odds about the chairman, then walking through the turnstiles and handing over their money. Brilliant. Only one language for this chairman – MONEY. keep coming and the old man's happy

  • number1inyorkshire

    you are missing the point mike .grella is better than no one on Tues no .gradel .becchio.paynter .somma took his chance and was top scorer at one bit last year ,grella might be the same he might prove his point grayson gave him a new deal the reason he is not playing him is grayson is sulking because he wouldn't go on loan and then he couldn't go to motherwell .
    i would say he is better than paynter if he was fit based on confidence .i personally don't see he has done much wrong ok some would argue right either but he is better than nowt

  • Tim Campbell

    It would be so easy to go down the moribund route after this result and speak glumly about bates and the referee (who was freakin crap)!! But instead I prefer to focus on the positives. I was glad to see lees and bromby starting and if I was larry i would defno stick with them for Hull game. Disappointed not to see nunez start, and brown still does not tick the boxes in my opinion. Clayton fabulous, as was captain fabulous, and as you TSS so eloquently put, Lonergan is winning over the doubters very early on in his leeds career. Talk is we might have a striker in by Tuesday, Mikeal Forssell? Then again as we have seen in the past don;t hold yer breath folks!!

  • Captaincrash

    Lonergan looking the part and Clayton really impressed, that lob was almost a goal of the decade contender but overall I can not be all that optimistic looking ahead. The defence is still a long, long way from looking balanced or solid and without Becchio this system has no chance. 'Ull next……

  • ross mccaramac

    keep up the good work dissidents

  • LeedsLover

    Grella can't be all that useless, the whole of Maccas team said Grella was the most skillfull, and Macass team had much better players than most we have now.

    I'm with number1inyorkshire, Grella has played less game time than both Paynter and McCormack, but has scored more goals than both put together, at least Grella knows where the goal is, and is capable of scoring.

    Graysons arrogance and stubborness is preventing Grella from playing, which, to me, shows Grayson doesn't have the team to heart, his own personal feelings seem to come before the team, on all fronts may I add.

    I think Grella can do the job, but number1inyorkshire is right, Grayson doesn't like being shown up, again, personal feelings before the team.

    The quicker that both Bates and Grayson go the better. I agree, under a new owner Grayson wouldn't last 10 seconds, he's to addicted to the freebie and loanee markets. He was same at Blackpool and Bates wasn't there either.

  • des

    Grella only knows where the goal is in reserve matches. If only he was half as good as he thinks he is. He hardly did a somma when loaned out to the lower leagues. This is the championship. Way above his level.
    Ross is not the man for 451 and billy is a donkey. We need someone in quick.
    I hope becchio knows that this period of injury has raised his status even further up due to the uselessNess of any other striker in 451 formation. Hope you can deal with the expectation.

  • jon

    play gradel up front alongside mccormick and put nunez in gradels midfield position.they are similar players yes but gradel can play upfront.
    one upfront supported by five in midfield is just too limited in my opinion
    certainly agree with dropping connolly,obrien and parker as they all looked well below par against city but i agree odea does not look like a LB.
    grayson still after some signings before sept and first three games show how much they do need new players.defensively we still look poor.

    jon

  • Tyler75

    Rumour is Forsell or Priskin from Ipswich – both could do a job until Becchio is fit. Mccormack can only prosper in a 442 – even if one of the 2 is Billy ! What I really like about Clayton is that he's waited for his chance and is absolutely determined to take it – first name on the teamsheet for me. Any idea what Brown actually does ?

  • Neil64

    Cannot believe anyone can possibly want Grella back. Give up on him, he`s all tricks & flicks. With that team spirit and 1 or 2 good signings then anything is possible. Proud of the boys yesterday.

  • Captaincrash

    Just seen the Howson red again. A joke. Weak ref and aggrieved 4th official did for him. Madness but I assume the FL will do FA about it.

  • Paddy1992

    Fuck off with the Grayson love-in he’s part of the problem. Grellas dogshit please don’t start calling for this worthless spineless joker to be back in the side I’d rather have paynter.

  • craigarmley

    I like grella , no reason not to play him n give him a chance, support for mccornack if nowt else

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